D. H. Lawrence

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Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

D. H. Lawrence is one of the most prolific writers in English literary history. His major works include ten volumes of poetry, a collection of critical essays, four books of travel writings, several translations, and plays, in addition to the four novels (among others) for which he is popularly known. His most famous novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), brought him notoriety and further assured that he would be remembered as a novelist rather than a poet and short-story writer. After his novels, his most widely read and anthologized works are short stories and poems. In many of his works, Lawrence uses identical situations, plots, images, and themes.

Achievements

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

The subject and style of Lawrence’s works, of whatever kind, are so distinct and consistent that his name has given birth to an adjective, “Lawrentian,” to describe a way of looking at the world and a method for presenting it. The bold originality and powerful style of his early novels attracted the attention of upper-class British writers and intellectuals such as the philosopher Bertrand Russell and even the prime minister Herbert Asquith. Lawrence’s values, however, were not the same as theirs, and he spent most of his life as a nomad, searching for amenable landscapes and cultures. All of his works record that search and reveal its remarkable unity of purpose.

After Lawrence’s death, his critical reputation eventually declined, though his works continued to sell. Then, in 1955, the influential modern English critic F. R. Leavis published a study of the novels and declared Lawrence to be the most important writer of his generation and as good as Charles Dickens. He praised Sons and Lovers (1913) as the first honest treatment of the British working class. Also in 1955 the American critic Harry T. Moore published the first authoritative biography, The Intelligent Heart, introducing Lawrence to a public as fascinated by his life as by his work. His reputation is worldwide; in 1982, there were nearly three hundred titles pertaining to Lawrence translated into thirty languages.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

D. H. Lawrence was among the most prolific and wide-ranging of modern writers, a fact all the more remarkable considering that he spent so much time on the move, battling chronic tuberculosis, which cut short his life in his forty-fifth year. In addition to his novels, he published more than a dozen books of poetry, collected in The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence (1964); eight volumes of short fiction, including half a dozen novellas, collected in The Complete Short Stories of D. H. Lawrence (1961); and seven plays, collected in The Complete Plays of D. H. Lawrence (1965). He also wrote a wide range of nonfiction, including four fine travel books: Twilight in Italy (1916), Sea and Sardinia (1921), Mornings in Mexico (1927), and Etruscan Places (1932). Movements in European History (1921), published under the pseudonym Lawrence H. Davison, is a subjective meditation on historical cycles and Europe’s decline, and Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (1921) is a highly original and influential volume of literary criticism.

Lawrence’s religious vision, in the guise of a commentary on the Bible’s book of Revelation, is offered in Apocalypse (1931). Many other essays on diverse subjects appeared in periodicals during the last two decades of his life and were collected posthumously by Edward McDonald in Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D. H. Lawrence (1936), and by Warren Roberts and Harry T. Moore in Phoenix II: Uncollected, Unpublished, and Other Prose Works (1968). Lawrence was also a formidable correspondent, and his letters are invaluable aids to understanding the man and the writer. Some 1,257 of the more than 5,500 known letters are available in a collection edited by Harry T. Moore. Several of Lawrence’s fictional works—including Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Women in Love, and The Virgin and the Gipsy—have been adapted to the motion-picture medium, and his life is the subject of the 1981 film The Priest...

(The entire section is 2,857 words.)